NATHAN ROSE HURT AS BULLS SCRAMBLE HOME
By Les Muir
DISASTER struck in the dying moments as Southcity scrambled past June 30-16 at Laurie Daley Oval on Saturday.
In a shattering last-play of the lethargic victory, Southcity playmaker Nathan Rose suffered a worrying knee injury in an accidental collision with the head of Junee captain-coach Matt Hands.
Rose was treated on the field before being carried off by two Southcity trainers, leaving the Bulls with acute anxiety.
Southcity captain-coach Nick Skinner, who missed the game with a hamstring problem, later did his utmost to put a positive spin on Rose’s trouble.
“I hope it’s not too bad, we’re having terrible trot (with injuries),” Skinner said.
On a brighter note, Southcity reported on Saturday night that Rose had "good movement" in the knee and the injury may not be as serious "as first thought".
As the Bulls battle through a late-season injury predicament, the fears over Rose’s knee continue a trend in recent times.
Southcity were without Skinner and Jake Dooley on Saturday because of injuries, while Pani Manawatu was working in Queensland.
With the skipper on the sidelines, Southcity were well short of their stylish best and rarely looked a team leading the Group Nine table.
And Skinner did not have a kind for the winners.
“We were poor ... we were terrible today,” Skinner said.
“Full credit to Junee; considering how many blokes they had backing up they played with a heap of spirit.
“We were just way off today, but luckily we still got the win I guess.”
In the loser’s camp, Matt Hands took a different approach.
“(I’m) Very proud of the effort the boys put in,” said Hands, who made a comeback after three weeks out with injury.
“It was a lot like a couple of weeks ago against Young; we knew if we going to be any chance in the game we had to slow them down to our pace and make it scrappy.
“I thought we did that in patches and we gave ourselves an opportunity.
“ I couldn’t be happier.”
Sportingly, Hands was quick to show unease over Rose.
“He’s (Rose) had a couple of knee problems in the past,” Hands said.
“Hopefully there’s not too much damage.
“It’s the last thing we want to see happen.
“They’re a good side and will go deep into the finals.”
With the siren imminent on Saturday, Hands and Rose came together in the fateful e incident.
“I dived for the ball and he got me with the knee on top of my head,” Hands said.
Yet again, Junee had to scramble to pull a team together, and the majority of players backed up from reserve grade.
Playing to their plan, Junee succeeded in countering Southcity’s pace and fitness – and made the Bulls look “ordinary”.
Significantly, Rose was on fire in the first half, scoring two tries to help the Bulls to an unconvincing 18-12 lead by halftime.
Rose stepped cleverly to score in the third minute and jinked his way over in the 20th minute following a fortunate ricochet.
The Bulls five-eighth started the second half in similar vein, weaving right to put Tim Hurst crashing over for a try in the 52nd minute.
Up 22-12, Southcity were hit by a diving dummy-half try to Aiden Sweeney in the 58th minute before Bulls centre Mitch Bennett snatched the final two tries.
On a day of drama, Southcity were an abject disappointment and were reduced to a rabble at times by the desperate Diesels.
SOUTHCITY 30 (M Bennett 2, N Rose 2, T Hurst, J Shepherd tries; K McCarthy 3 goals) d JUNEE 16 (A Sweeney, A Collins, C Hands tries; C Hands 2 goals) at Laurie Daley Oval. Scrums: 7-8. Penalties: 7-6